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Principles of

Environmental Science
Inquiry and Applications
Third Edition

Cunningham • Cunningham

Chapter 6
Lecture Outlines*

Copyright © The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display.
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Food and Agriculture
Chapter 6

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Outline:

• Chronic Hunger and Food Security


• Malnutrition
• Major Food Sources
• Soil
 Horizons

 Degradation

• Agricultural Resources
• New Crops and Genetic Engineering
• Sustainable Agriculture
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NUTRITION AND FOOD SUPPLIES

• Chronic Hunger and Food Security


 About 60% of people in the developing

world are considered chronically


undernourished.
- The FAO predicts that by 2030, there will

be enough food available to supply


3,050 kcal/day to everyone.
 In a world of surplus food, some 840

million people don’t have enough to eat.

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Inadequate Nutrition Risk

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Famines

• Famines are characterized by large-scale food


shortages, massive starvation, social
disruption, and economic chaos.
 Mass migrations often occur because

productive capacity has been sacrificed.


 Environmental conditions are immediate

trigger, but politics and economics are often


underlying problems.
- Arbitrary political boundaries block historic

access to refuge areas.


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Famines Cont’d

• Aid from rich countries often distributes


surplus commodities and produces feeling of
generosity.
 Food camps have serious drawbacks:

- Stress and crowding

- Lack of sanitation

- Close contact to epidemic diseases

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Malnutrition

• Malnourishment - Nutritional imbalance


caused by lack of specific dietary components.
• The most common dietary problem in wealthy
countries is over-nutrition.
 Up to 64% of all adult Americans are

overweight.
 In poorer countries, people often cannot

afford to purchase an adequate variety of


foods, including meats and vegetables.

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Malnutrition Cont’d

• Iron deficiency is the most common dietary


imbalance in the world.
 Leads to anemia.

- Increases risk of death from hemorrhage

in childbirth and affects development.


 Red meat, eggs, legumes, and green

vegetables are all good sources of


iron.

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Protein Deficiency Diseases

• Kwashiorkor - “Displaced Child” - Occurs


mainly in children whose diet lacks high-
quality protein.
 Reddish-orange hair, puffy discolored skin,

and a bloated stomach


• Marasmus - “To Waste Away” - Caused by a
diet low in both protein and calories.
 Very thin, shriveled

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MAJOR FOOD SOURCES

• Three crops deliver majority of world’s


nutrients:
 Wheat, Rice and Corn

- Potatoes, barley, oats and rye are

staples in cool, moist climates.


- Cassava, sweet potatoes, and other

roots and tubers are staples in warm wet


climates.

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Meat and Dairy

• Protein-rich foods are prized by people


nearly everywhere.
 FAO reports that as incomes rise in

developing countries, food choices are


shifting towards higher-quality and more
expensive foods.
- 60% of production occurs in lesser

developed countries.
 Globally, some 660 million metric tons of

cereals are used to feed livestock.


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Seafood

• Seafood is an important protein source in


many countries.
 Annual catches of ocean fish rose by 4%

annually between 1950-1988.


- Since 1989, 13 of 17 major fisheries

have declined or become commercially


unsustainable.

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SOIL: A RENEWABLE RESOURCE

• Soil - A complex mixture of weathered


minerals, partially decomposed organic
materials, and a host of living organisms.
 At least 20,000 different soil types in the

U.S.
- Vary due to influences of parent material,

time, topography, climate, and organisms.


 Can be replenished and renewed.

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Soil Ecosystems

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Soil Profiles

• Soils are stratified into horizontal layers


called soil horizons.
 Together make up soil profile.

- O Horizon (Organic layer)

 Leaf litter, partially decomposed

organisms.
- A Horizon (Topsoil)

 Mineral particles mixed with organic

material.
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Soil Profiles Cont’d

- E Horizon (Leached)
 Depleted of soluble nutrients.

- B Horizon (Subsoil)
 Often dense texture from

accumulating nutrients.
- C Horizon (Parent Material)
 Weathered rock fragments with little

organic material.

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WAYS WE USE AND ABUSE SOIL

• Approximately 11% of the earth’s land area is


currently in agricultural production.
 Up to four times as much could potentially

be converted to agricultural use.


- Much of this additional land suffers from

constraints.

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Land Resources

• In developed countries, 95% of agricultural


growth has been from altered agricultural
practices (pesticides - fertilizer).
 Less land cultivated in North America now

than 100 years ago.


• Many developing countries are reaching limit
of lands that can be exploited for agriculture
without unacceptable social and
environmental costs.

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Land Degradation

• Estimated nearly 3 million ha of cropland


ruined annually via erosion, 4 million ha
transformed into deserts, and 8 million ha
converted to non-agricultural uses.

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Land Degradation Cont’d

• Definitions of degradation are based on both


biological productivity and expectations of
what land should be like.
 Generally, land is considered degraded

when soil is impoverished or eroded, run-


off is contaminated, or biodiversity is
diminished.
- Water and wind are the driving forces for

vast majority of soil degradation.

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Erosion

• Erosion is an important natural process,


resulting in redistribution of the products of
geologic weathering, and is part of both soil
formation and soil loss.
 Tends to begin subtly.

- Worldwide, erosion reduces crop

production by equivalent of 1% of world


cropland per year.

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Mechanisms of Erosion

• Sheet Erosion - Thin, uniform layer of soil


removed.
• Rill Erosion - Small rivulets of running water
gather and cut small channels in the soil.
• Gully Erosion - Rills enlarge to form channels
too large to be removed by normal tillage.
• Streambank Erosion - Washing away of soil
from established streambanks.

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Sheet Erosion

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Rill Erosion

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Gully Erosion

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Streamback erosion

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OTHER AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES

• Water
 Agriculture accounts for largest single

share of global water use.


- As much as 80% of water withdrawn for

irrigation never reaches intended


destination.
 Cheap cost encourages over-use.

 Waterlogging

 Salinization

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Fertilizer

• Lack of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus


often limits plant growth.
 Adding nutrients via fertilizer usually

stimulates growth and increases crop yields.


 Manure and nitrogen-fixing bacteria are

alternative methods of replenishing soil


nutrients.

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Energy

• Farming in industrialized countries is highly


energy-intensive.
 Altogether, U.S. food system consumes

16% of total energy use.


- Most foods require more energy to

produce, process, and transport than we


yield from them.

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Pest Control

• Biological pests reduce crop yields and spoil


as much as half the crops harvested annually.
 Estimated up to half current crop yields

might be lost in the absence of pesticides.


• Crops grown without synthetic fertilizers or
pesticides tend to have lower yield, but have
lower operating costs and less ecological
damage.

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NEW CROPS AND GENETIC ENGINEERING

 At least 3,000 species of plants have been


used for food at some point in time.
- Many new or unconventional varieties

might be valuable food supplies.

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Green Revolution
• Most major improvements in farm production
have come from technological advances and
modification of a few well-known species.

• Green Revolution - Spread of new varieties


around the world.

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Genetic Engineering
• Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s)
 Contain DNA possessing genes borrowed
from unrelated species.
- Can produce crops with pest-resistance
and wider tolerance levels.
 60% of all processed foods in North
America contain transgenic products.

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Overview Process of Genetic Engineering

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

• Soil Conservation
 Managing Topography

- Contour Plowing - Plowing across slope

to slow flow of water.


- Strip Farming - Planting different crops

in alternating strips along land contours.


- Terracing - Shaping land to create level

shelves of earth to hold water and soil.

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Terracing

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Summary:

• Chronic Hunger and Food Security


• Malnutrition
• Major Food Sources
• Soil
 Horizons

 Degradation

• Agricultural Resources
• New Crops and Genetic Engineering
• Sustainable Agriculture
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